Will Johnson

Scorpion (Undertow Music)

Texas Platters

Will Johnson

Scorpion (Undertow Music)

Anyone coming to Will Johnson's first solo work in eight years expecting another side of his rock band Centro-matic or standard singer-songwriter fare is in for a surprise. At first blush, this "grower," as Johnson has called it, sounds disjointed and impossibly moody. Adjust your ears, and it comes into a hazy focus. With Centro bandmate Matt Pence engineering and adding creaks and whooshes, the two create a dreamscape somewhere between the nightmares of Vic Chesnutt and Left Coast sunshine of early Neil Young. Lyrically, Johnson reaches for the deceptive poetry of Richard Buckner, and he mostly succeeds, although it will take many listens to unravel some of its puzzles. Persistent piano on "Bloodkin Push" and barely there vocals on "Vehicular and True" are among the most memorable moments of Scorpion, a difficult listen with subtle rewards.

***

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